Four southern Illinois counties moved to a high COVID-19 community level in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Thursday update, after two consecutive weeks with no high counties.

Perry, Jackson, Franklin and Williamson counties are at a high level, while 14 counties are at a medium. Those include Jefferson, Marion, Wayne, Johnson, Massac and more.

Although the Thursday update brought four high level counties, there were 18 total counties at an elevated level compared to 20 elevated counties last week.

The CDC’s COVID-19 community levels are updated Thursdays and based on metrics from the past seven days, including new hospital admissions per 100,000 people, average percent of staffed, inpatient beds occupied by COVID patients and new cases per 100,000 people.

People in high community level areas are advised to wear a mask indoors and on public transportation, and the federal agency says people at a higher risk of severe illness should consider precautions in medium-level areas.

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported four Illinois counties were at high COVID-19 community levels March 2. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

The Illinois Department of Public Health reported 10,772 new confirmed and probable COVID-19 cases and 52 deaths for the week ending Feb. 26.

IDPH Director Dr. Sameer Vohra said in a March 3 statement the department continues to closely monitor respiratory viruses.

“COVID-19 community levels across the State remain stable again this week,” Vohra said in the statement. “However, we are reporting four counties in Southern Illinois that are at a High Community Level for COVID-19. IDPH continues to monitor COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases closely throughout Illinois, with extra attention towards those most at-risk. Treatments continue to be effective, but timing is important. Seek treatment with your local healthcare provider or use the newly available test to treat service as soon as you develop symptoms.”

The IDPH test-to-treat service is in partnership with Southern Illinois University Medicine, and people who test positive for COVID-19 can call 217-545-5100 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday to make a telehealth appointment to discuss the possibility of treatment.

COVID-19 in St. Clair County and Illinois

St. Clair County is at a low COVID-19 community level as of March 2. The CDC reports the county’s weekly case rate dropped from 78.17 to 68.93 per 100,000 individuals this week.

Hospitalizations also declined week-to-week, with an average of 6.3 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 St. Clair County residents and 4% of staffed inpatient beds in use by patients with confirmed COVID-19.

Across Illinois, 22% of hospital beds were available as of March 2, IDPH reports. In southwestern Illinois, IDPH’s “Region 4,” intensive care unit availability was at 12%, while ventilator availability was at 89%.

Test positivity was at 2.92% in St. Clair County as of Feb. 28, the CDC reports, and the rate of tests performed had declined by 12.32% as of Feb. 24.

Information about vaccination and testing is available online in St. Clair County.

Note: Some CDC data, such as test positivity rates, the number of tests performed and weekly case rate, update on different days. IDPH data and CDC data may not update at the same time, so metrics may vary across agencies.

This story was originally published March 5, 2023, 6:00 AM.

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Meredith Howard is a service journalist with the Belleville News-Democrat. She is a Baylor University graduate and has previously freelanced with the Illinois Times and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.


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